“The Romanov Cross” (Bantam Hardcover, $26) by Robert Masello is a medical thriller, historical novel and ghost-story all in one. It was definitely hard to put down.
A fishing boat off the northern coast of Alaska salvages a coffin from the water. Inside is a man's body, in mummy-like condition, wearing an old, Russian-style cross, embedded with emeralds. The boat wrecks on the rocks of St. Peter's island. Harley, the captain, makes it to shore floating on the lid of the coffin, which is engraved with a strange design. He has the cross in his pocket.
After being court-martialed, Army epidemiologist Frank Slater finds his punishment mysteriously lifted. He has been assigned to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal situation.
The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony of settlers that was wiped out by the Spanish flu in 1918. Slater has to make sure that the thawed bodies don't contain the deadly virus.
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